September Game Changer – Ricardo Rocha

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September Community Game Changer
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Aspiring doctor Ricardo Rocha encourages other students to dream big
By Doug McPherson

Content Provided By Metropolitan State University of Denver

If you watched Ricardo Rocha closely at age 16 working and sweating with his father on area farms, you could almost see the cycle of hard labor taking root in his future and the next generation of his family.

If you followed him from the fields of the weekdays to his construction job on the weekends, you could see that future solidifying.

Then you’d see him fixing diesel engines at a shop in Commerce City for $3 an hour or cleaning offices in Centennial for minimum wage because his family desperately needed the money. His future seemed shut tight like a coffin — a life sentence of suffocating, menial labor.

But not for Rocha. Not in this lifetime.

Rocha enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and now the junior biology major is on the path to medical school, where he plans to study neuroscience — to do brain research related to PTSD, trauma and memory.

Rocha hasn’t stopped there. He knows there are others out there on the cusp of breaking the cycle of hard labor, so in addition to working two jobs and attending school full time, Rocha volunteers with College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), Brother 2 Brother, the Summer Scholars Program and other nonprofits, mentoring those who are wearing the same shoes he was just a few years ago.

“I get to speak to high school students about the importance of pushing forward … to go out and get what they want in life, to go after all their dreams,” says Rocha, 22.

A CAMP employee first encouraged Rocha, whose parents are migrant workers from Mexico, to attend college. Now, hundreds of youths have heard Rocha’s own message of inspiration and encouragement.

“We all have our own stories and hurdles, we all have different issues that others likely don’t understand, but it’s how you respond to those stories and issues that makes you who you are,” he says. “It’s not about how you feel, how inspired you are, or how brilliant your work is. Instead, it’s about not breaking the chain of hard work, and the thrill of seeking improvement day after day.”

Content Provided By Metropolitan State University of Denver

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